Castle Roland

Trillion Dollar Family

by Rilbur

On Hold

Chapter 18

Posted: N/A

An alarm grew louder and louder, until finally it penetrated Jared's silent, wracking sobs. The pod had breached atmosphere, and had successfully avoided the surface-to-space missiles attempting to engage it, but it was rapidly approaching a cloud of surface-to-air missiles that were reaching out to destroy it. It's massively overpowered engines blasted, jerking it around in a frantic evasion pattern that left Jared bruised and would have battered a normal human being to death.

And then the music cut in, and Jared cursed his stupidity. He'd thought it amusing, but right at the moment he wasn't interested in the cut-down version of the 1812 Overture, even with the 'fun' of substituting missile detonations for the firing of cannon. Flicking through the controls, in his rage and despair he couldn't remember how to cut the program completely and finally gave up, just choosing a song that fit his current mood. The dark, driving rhythms of the song drove him into battle, as his sensors finally lost all view of the world around him, cut off by the red glow of reentry as his shields finally lost power. But he was already past the first wave of SAMs, and no one on the ground had known to hold any back to engage this second, more vulnerable stage of his descent. And then, with a shuddering roar it was too late as the capsule exploded into a dozen pieces, leaving only the core unit which had carefully reoriented itself. The other pieces threw out shrapnel, flak, and flares to confuse enemy fire control, while other components generated blinding bursts of power designed to destroy receiving equipment or a continuous, harsh buzz saw of jamming that simply blocked communications.

The result was a complete and utter mess that no one and nothing could track through, blinding them for a few critical minutes. Even visual tracing was impossible, as a dozen spikes of metal shot away, creating a descending fireball visually identical to the one that raged around Jared's suit. His suit's muscles were running on automatic now, carefully twitching to maintain the precarious balance of his landing unit while not sticking out into the fiery flare that roared around him.

And then he was close enough to the ground, and the landing unit's shields flipped open, turning it from a needle-nosed bullet arrowing through the air to a widespread flower cupping the air, breaking it even as a powerful engine kicked in. Even with his suit's powerful muscles, Jared was driven to his knees instantly, the landing unit's engines compensating as designed for the sudden shift in his weight.

The pressure was like the space rockets of old that had lifted astronauts into space, only far worse and in reverse. He was pressed down into his restraints not to generate the speed that would get him out of the air, but to stop the velocity that would slam him into the merciless ground. Completely blinded by the corona of his passage, Jared had to hope that the inertial tracking units were accurate enough to place him properly on the map, which hopefully didn't contain any mistakes that would turn him into a long, metallic smear across the landscape.

And then the landing unit exploded around him, rockets lifting it away to detonate far above in a hail of flares and chaff identical to the dozen decoy spikes that had lifted away earlier. More ECM activated, covering him in the last few seconds as he fell a couple dozen feet to the earth below.

Jared landed with a splash, cursing as he realized he was clearly nowhere close to his designated landing zone. His suit's built in GPS system instantly began analyzing everything from the color of the water to the radio signature of the area in an effort to locate his precise position, and in less than a second a map displayed his current position, and planned drop. He was off by less than a mile, having fallen directly into the Occoquan Reservoir rather than the Fountainhead Regional Park. The good news was even if the military precisely ID'd his landing zone, it wouldn't lead them to anything important. The bad news was he was over three miles from the nearest safe house the Federation agents in the area had been able to arrange, and on the wrong side of the river to boot.

And then his search systems detected two jet craft, closing at high velocity.

Jared had managed to pile drive himself fairly deep into the silt of the river, but not deep enough to have any hope of avoiding IR and visual detection. Instantly, he stood as straight up and he could manage, targeted the jets, and selected AA fire from the menu of options.

His suit jerked twice as the micro-missiles launched, and then two red dots appeared on his tactical map, rapidly converging with the jets. The jets twisted and turned madly in an effort to evade, but both pilots gave up and bailed in time to avoid dying with their aircraft. Jared finally broke free of the silt and glared at the river. He didn't have time to try and swim across before the U.S. would be able to get satellite imagery of the area, not now that they knew someone or something hostile was in the region.

Thankfully, he'd planned on the assumption that the plan wouldn't survive contact with the enemy, and he didn't need the supplies that were supposed to be stashed there. The intel he was supposed to receive from his contact would be useful, but right at the moment evasion was more important than trying to take the fight to the enemy. Finding a likely road on his map, he climbed out of the river onto dry land and set the suit to stealth mode. Abruptly feeling every pound of weight as the suit's muscles shut down, he trudged along as quickly as he could. Thankfully, the tree cover was good on both sides of the river and it would be hard to see anything in the dead of the night. And the one good thing the river had managed was to provide a heat sink to get rid of the heat generated by reentry. While the landing unit had absorbed most of it, Jared knew his IR signature would have been relatively large immediately after landing.

While he walked along the road, Jared mused over the map the suit provided of the area. He was only a few miles away from route 95, and he'd come down close enough to his planned landing area that there were a few safe houses he could still make. The best one was on the outskirts of Agnewville, though getting there was going to take a while.

Jared started marching at the quick lug his suit limited him too. He was looking at the better part of a five mile walk, so he'd better hurry up.

Then a truck roared around a corner in the road ahead of him, and damned near ran him over. U.S. Marines spilled out of it, and Jared cursed. Of course. Intel had chosen the other side of the river precisely because it was hard to get across in a hurry, shielding him from the patrol that was due in the area.

Unless, of course, he walked headfirst into them!

His suit activated with an instant's thought, and he darted sideways towards the edge of the road, even as his hands snatched upward, grabbing the rifle attacked to his back. It came down with lethal, viperish speed and began to snarl. Two anti-vehicle rounds into the engine block destroyed the patrol car itself, as he activated jamming, blocking all communications in the area. It'd be as good as a red flag if anyone was looking for it, except for the other landing spikes had all deployed their own jamming equipment. No one had thought to equip them with AA, but thanks to the foresight of the engineers responsible for the drop pod, the radio bands were alive with the harsh static of jamming and the harsh pops and strobbing of EW weapons. Sooner or later someone would notice that this patrol had failed to report in, or someone would stumble over their bodies, but that gave Jared some time to get to safety.

For now, his battle rifle was light in his hands as men exploded under the impact of the hypervelocity darts he was shooting. It wasn't even a massacre, just simple slaughter as he took them out before they could fire a single shot. They didn't even have time to scream.

"That's for you, Mathews," Jared whispered. "A small down payment on a much larger debt."

Mathews deserved whatever he could get, but Jared snarled silently as he decided that only one thing could pay the debt owed Davey and Cody. "You're dead, Ellison," Jared smiled. "Oh yes. But not very quickly."

Jared found the key exactly where he'd been told to look, and while the battle suit's clumsy fingers had difficulty with small objects, the designers had considered the possibility of fine manipulation. Small prehensile tendrils reached out from a fingertip and lifted the key from under the rock it was hidden under. Walking to the large, exterior cellar entrance, Jared used the key on the padlock and opened the large doors. It was a tight squeeze, but he managed to slip down the cellar entrance, using the ropes thoughtfully attached to the cellar to close it behind himself.

"Are you a robot, or is that some kind of spacesuit?" someone drawled behind Jared, causing him to stiffen in shock.

"No and no but technically yes," Jared told the man, frowning as he continued to close up the cellar door. His primary safe house had been supposed to be empty, but he'd forgotten to check the precis on this one. "It's advanced combat armor, but it's designed to handle NBC attacks, and vacuum."

"Would have been nice to have back in the War, not that I stayed in it long," the man sighed. "My own fault. Need any help, or just laying low?"

"Laying low," Jared finished securing the door. "I should probably get up there and redo the padlock."

"I'll handle that," the man told him. "You stay down here. The missus will bring you some food if you like."

"No," Jared shook his head before remembering it couldn't be seen. "Thank you, but I don't need food right now. I..." his voice failed him. "I would like to alone," he couldn't keep the tears from rising now, and he knew the man could hear that.

"Alright," the man nodded. "I take it something happened?"

"The Nova Maria was hit, looks like she went down. With all hands," Jared managed to keep a more-or-less even tone.

The man sighed. "God bless all aboard. If you need anything, come on up. We won't bother you."

"Thank you," Jared whispered, still not turning around. He didn't need the other man to be any more human than he already was. He felt too naked to bear that.

The suit hissed when he broke the seals, the air inside mixing with the air outside. It smelled wet and green, with the musky scene of life.

Jared climbed out of the suit and walked over to a corner of the basement. There weren't any windows, and the light was set low, leaving it dark and dismal, just what he needed right now. Sitting down, he placed his back to the wall, and let the tears fall, thankful the man had promised him privacy.

Jared didn't know how long he sat there crying before there was a knock on the basement door. "Yes?" he managed to say.

"I know we promised not to bother you, but you're being rather loud," the man from earlier turned on a light and trudged down the stairs. "You need to keep hydrated," he rolled a water bottle across the floor to Jared.

"Thanks," Jared cracked the bottle and chugged it, suddenly aware of how horribly thirsty he was. "I think I'm going to need more."

The man smiled and rolled another bottle across the room. "I'll go get some more," he turned to leave, then paused. Speaking over his shoulder, he added, "If you need to talk..."

"I think," Jared swallowed. "I think I do."

"I'll bring the water first," the man told him.

Jared made the second bottle last longer, but it vanished before the man returned, arms filled with a number of bottles. "I'm surprised you didn't just offer me a glass," Jared commented as the man crossed the basement.

The man snorted. "A glass of water would be easy to contaminate. This way, you have at least some assurance that this really is water you're drinking."

"Ah," Jared nodded. "That makes sense, I suppose."

"Just make sure to check the seals," the man commented. "Or it's no reassurance at all."

Jared picked up a bottle, twisted the cap off, and took a healthy swig. "If I can't trust you, I'm already screwed," he pointed out.

The man snorted. "So, who was it?"

"Excuse me?" Jared asked.

"You don't sit down here in the dark and cry for a few hours because you lost your ship," the man pointed out. "There had to be someone specific. Oh, I know it's a violation of the regs, but it happens. We're all human, and sometimes we fall in love with someone we shouldn't. You either request a transfer to a different unit, or try to pretend it never happened."

"You make it sound like you've been there yourself," Jared sparred for time, not yet ready to talk.

"It wasn't actually in my unit, but yes," the man nodded. Jared looked up at him, really seeing him for the first time, and frowned. He looked oddly familiar. The man picked up a bottle and checked the seal before twisting the cap off and taking a swallow. "I served in the African War, the beginnings of it anyway. My unit was responsible for patrolling an area with a village in it, and we got friendly with the natives. One of them..." He shook his head.

"She brought me some water, and some food, while we were staying the night. We talked. I didn't know how young she was. Oh, I knew she was young, but I didn't think she was too young," the man sighed. "Oh, how foolish youth is. I had plenty of chances to visit with her, and we fell in love."

"That was the problem, you see," the man told Jared. "We were supposed to be making friends with the natives, but keeping our distance otherwise. The last thing command wanted was to make them targets by creating ties that might interest the insurgents. Well, I loved her anyway. I tried to keep it quiet, and then my unit had to stay there overnight. There were some senators doing a tour of the war zone, and they'd decided to visit the village, talk to some of the natives."

Jared grew still. "Then the insurgents jammed all radio communications," he whispered.

"Yeah," the man nodded. "I take it you heard of it?"

"You were the officer in charge," Jared whispered. "Initial scouting reports indicated you were moderately outnumbered, so you set up a watch rotation, and dug in. You believed someone would notice you were out of communication and come to your relief quickly."

"Yeah," the man nodded. "When I was off watch, she came to my room. She told me that she loved me, and if she was doomed to die she didn't want to die a virgin. I tried to convince her to wait, that this wasn't the time, but she had an argument I couldn't resist. She loved me, and she wanted to give her virginity to me, not some rapist insurgent."

"I tried, oh I tried," the man smiled. "She wouldn't take no. And I was young, she was willing, and my hormones got the best of me. Then her parents walked in, looking for her."

"They were pissed off, weren't they?" Jared frowned. So many of the details matched his memory, but parts of it were subtly off. As if he'd jumped to a conclusion, all those years ago, that maybe wasn't quite right.

"Beyond pissed," the man smiled, and Jared wracked his brain. He knew the man's name, but for some reason it escaped him.

"I was actually pretty close to calming them down when my sergeant walked in on me," the man shook his head. "I handled it poorly, especially when it came out that she was only fifteen years old. Locally, she was legal. But the regs... well, the regs are based off the culture of the U.S., not some third-world back-country village where an unmarried eighteen year old woman was considered an old maid."

"You ordered the sergeant to keep his mouth shut, forget he'd seen anything," Jared felt the anger stir again.

"No," the man shook his head. "That's what he thought, ironically, I phrased my order terribly. What I wanted him to do was let me bring it to the attention of our superiors. What was it I said..." he shook his head. "It was so very close to what you said. I asked him not to talk about it, to avoid mentioning it to anyone, until I was ready. I was preparing to explain to him that I was going to turn myself in to my superiors after we'd weathered the current crisis when he decked me. He shattered my jaw and knocked me out cold. It was three days later when I woke up, Victoria leaning over me, crying. Turned out the insurgents had nearby reinforcements, and they attacked, hard, while I was out cold. The sergeant had excelled, defending the village against seemingly insurmountable odds."

"Unfortunately, her parents were dead, killed in the battle, and I wound up being carted off to a military hospital and a court martial. I managed to sneak her some money before I was locked up, but she had a very hard time of it." The man shook his head. "She had a hard few years of it, before she managed to track me down. She got an education visa thanks to one of those support programs that were supposed to help rebuild the area, and eventually managed to get into a medical college. By the time she had to go back, she'd managed to track me down."

The man smiled. "I couldn't believe it when I opened my door, and there she was. I almost didn't recognize her, but then she smiled, and I couldn't believe it had taken me that long. It was her."

Jared shook his head. "She was underage-"

"Not anymore she wasn't," the man shook his head. "And now she is Mrs. Travis, currently finishing her residency before becoming Doctor Travis. I couldn't be prouder."

"Interesting story," Jared sighed. "Sounds like she went through a lot of hardships to find you."

"A lot," Travis nodded, "but she tells me it was worth it every day. I'm only sorry I screwed up with my sergeant. If I'd done a better job explaining it to him, the situation might have been totally different."

"The sergeant regretted it the instant he threw the punch," Jared whispered. "He knew he was out of line, but the sudden realization that you were, technically, a pedophile had him reeling, especially since his youngest son had just been born. When you tried to order him to keep his mouth shut, he snapped. He expected to be drummed out of the Corps, and it was only pure luck and the wiles of thankful congressmen that kept just that from happening."

"He got the Silver Star, as I recall," Travis's eyes narrowed.

"I didn't deserve it," Jared shrugged. "I'm sorry."

"The past is the past," Travis whispered. "Just don't mention it to Areta."

"I figured it out long before you did, idiot," she commented laughingly from the head of the stairs. "I forgave him the night my parent's died. He held me while I sobbed, apologizing again and again for failing to protect them, as he'd failed to protect me," she walked down and into the room. "I understood then that you simply wanted to protect me, as you hoped someone would protect your son if he were ever endangered. I could respect that, even if I detested the results of your emotion."

"You were young, too young," Jared commented.

"My sister was married at thirteen," Areta commented. "I escaped that fate because there were more women than men in our village, and I was 'too smart' to be of interest to most men. Ben was one of the few men who looked past my plain exterior to see the beauty within, and perhaps the only one who wasn't repulsed by the thought of a woman who could very well be smarter than he was."

"Still," Jared began.

"Understand this, Sergeant," she cut him off. "I forgave you because your culture was different than mine, and I knew it. I demand the same courtesy now that you know of the cultural difference."

Jared took a deep breath, then gritted his teeth. "Very well, ma'am," he conceded the point as gracefully as he could manage. After all, he had been out of line back then, and he owed her.

"Now, my husband has missed a very important point in assuming you had a relationship with someone on board your ship, and that is the fact that you did have kids," she commented. "Two, last I heard. Furthermore, unlike this idiot I've been following the news, and I saw your name in it. I strongly doubt you kidnapped two children just to rape them, or that the Federation would grant you asylum if you had. Were they on board?"

Jared's head snapped up. "You mentioned being smart," he shook his head. "I think you understated the fact."

"You are avoiding the question," she commented. "I'm going to assume that's because I am correct; my condolences on your loss." Somehow, she managed to avoid making it sound like an empty, meaningless phrase.

"I begin to understand how you could fall in love with her," Jared told Travis. "Thank you, ma'am." Jared stood, joints creaking. "I think I need sleep."

"There is a cot, my husband will help you assemble it," Areta nodded. "I will call in sick today, and make sure no one comes down here. I covered the tracks you left leading towards the house, but they may well realize that you are somewhere in town, and attempt a house-by-house search. If that happens, you will need to leave quickly. I am not interested in being imprisoned, or deported."

"Yes ma'am," Jared nodded.

She turned and swept from the room. "I often joke that she should have been the officer, not me," Travis commented. "She agrees, and I'm not sure she's joking."

"Tell me about it," Jared shook his head then yawned. "Excuse me."

"Emotions take it out of you," Travis nodded. "Give me a minute and I'll have the cot ready for you."

"I can help," Jared protested through another yawn.

"Maybe you can, but I don't need the help and you've been through enough. I'll have it ready in a jiffy."

Travis may have left the Marine Corps, but he clearly remembered how to assemble a cot. He had it out, unfolded, and prepared in less than three minutes, and sheets and a pillow were thoughtfully stashed right next to it. "I'll go upstairs and grab some blankets for you," Travis told him. "For now, strip, marine!"

Blearily, Jared shook his head. "I can sleep in this stuff, and if I need to go, I'll need to go fast."

Travis frowned. "Your call," he conceded as he left the room.

Jared ran a quick diagnostic on his armor. He'd used less than one percent of the available power, which left him plenty of juice, but he was debating leaving the armor stashed here, safely, while he did his reconnaissance of the area on foot. There were supposed to be several weapons caches hidden in the area and he wanted to get a hands-on look at each of them before he committed to any operations.

He had a debt to pay, and he wanted it paid now, but hurry was likely to let the bastard get away. Not something he wanted.

"Jared," Travis called from the door, "we've got a problem."

"Problem?" Jared asked.

"The local marine unit is turning mutinous, and the President is considering bailing out until the situation 'clarifies'," Travis sneered.

"Mutinous?" Jared raised an eyebrow in question.

"Someone -- not me -- talked to them about the evidence linking the President to the assassination of his predecessor," Travis shook his head. "Whatever else they are, they're marines. If they really believe he had the previous President assassinated, they won't serve him. They swore the same oath we did, to support and defend the Constitution. If he is the one who assassinated President Whitaker, then his declaration of a State of Emergency becomes slightly suspect, especially since he used it to delay elections. If he's trying to break the Constitution, if we can convince even a fraction of them of that," Travis shook his head. "Do you have anything that can help with that? We might be able to bring him down without a frontal assault."

Jared glanced at his suit. There was a program, uploaded for use after he'd killed the President... "I need to get moving. You have a truck, right?"

"Yes," Travis nodded curtly. "Access to one, anyway. I can have it here in five minutes with a phone call."

"Get it here, now!" Jared ordered. "I need you to get me as close to the White House as you can, right up at the front gate if possible."

Travis chewed his lip. "Alright. Why a truck?"

Jared hitched his thumb at his armor. "I'm not sitting up front in that thing!"

Travis glared at it. "No way we're getting anywhere near The Mall with that thing in the back," he complained. "Even if we cover it with a tarp, they're going to want to inspect our 'cargo'."

Jared frowned. Damnit, he didn't have the time to do this any other way! "How close?"

Travis shook his head. "I'm not sure. I'll make some calls."

"Make it fast," Jared snapped. "If I have to, I can blast my way through, but the closer I am when I start, the better."

"Be back as quick as I can," Travis jogged for the stairs out of the basement. Jared put him out of his mind and climbed into the suit. Without the helping hands, it took a few minutes longer to make all the necessary connections, and Travis was back just as he'd finished. "Truck is on its way, and you're in luck. One of the PFCs running the checkpoint on the Arlington Memorial Bridge is a friend, and he can probably get us through so long as the truck passes a cursory inspection."

"This thing won't pass any inspection," Jared pointed out.

"It will if we cover you in suit cases, and claim we're the first part of a convoy of sightseers," Travis grinned. "My wife is packing some luggage now, and we'll pick up more on the way."

Jared nodded. "Satellite surveillance?"

"If they knew what to look for, we'd be screwed anyway," Travis shook his head. "No, there's too much 'noise' going on for them to pick us up unless they were already looking right at us, specifically. Their software just won't pick up on it in real time. We're already deep inside the security net, that's why your safe houses are all so close to the target."

Jared nodded. "Alright then," he closed the visor and pulled up the video. "I'll keep my EM signature to a minimum my turning all suit systems off. All of them. You'll need to signal me over the radio when it's go time."

Travis nodded. "I'll need a radio link."

Jared pointed at the table. "I left one for you. It's a two-way earpiece, looks just like a standard bluetooth headset." Jared grinned. "Actually, it is a bluetooth headset; the radio bands are an add-on."

Travis's eyebrows rose. "Impressive. Range?"

"A couple hundred feet, enough for our purposes," Jared chewed his lip. "I wish I could think of something to improve the odds, but this is a huge gamble. Boy would Admiral Beech be pissed with me if he knew I was doing this."

"Beech?" Travis asked. "Jacob Beech?"

"I'm not sure about his first name," Jared shrugged. "He was on board the Nova Maria when she blew."

"Are you sure about that?" Travis asked, frowning. "I've been in touch with him recently..." Travis shook his head. "Maybe it's a different Beech. There are three of them in Starfleet."

Jared frowned back, thinking to the last minutes of the Nova Maria. "I didn't see any escape pods before the last nuke hit."

"And if it was a nuke, it would have fried the escape pods completely," Travis agreed. "The EMP alone would have done them in."

Jared shook his head. "Change the subject. I can't afford..." Jared sniffed back his tears, and then steeled his will. Not now.

"Yes sir," Travis saluted, without a single trace of irony. A horn honked outside.

"That's the signal," Travis sighed. "He's pulling up to the cellar door, I'll go unlock it."

Jared waited impatiently for the doors to open, then poked his head up slowly. Seeing that the coast was clear, he ran for the bed of the truck and carefully jumped into the back and laid down. The suit made it a cramped fit, and if it hadn't been a rather oversized vehicle the deception wouldn't have worked. As it was, they quickly piled luggage around him, then tied down a tarp. Jared locked the suit's muscles into place so he wouldn't accidentally move, and then tried to relax.

Everything was going a little too well, in some ways. They made several more stops, and at each stop more luggage got piled around and on top of him until he was buried under a small mountain of the stuff.

"Alright, this is only going to work because my friend is on watch," an unfamiliar voice announced over the com link. "Travis had to stay behind, so I'm going to be your control for now. Stay silent, and stay hidden until I give the word."

Jared double checked that his suit's transmitter was on minimum power. "Why did he have to stay behind?"

The unidentified man didn't answer for a minute. "We just received word, they ID'd him as your local contact."

"If they've ID'd him, then won't they know about you?" Jared asked, cursing the fact that he'd dared to think that things were going well. He'd invited Murphy in!

"Simply put, it's now or never," the man told him.

"Go then, and go fast," Jared told him. "I'm pretty well strapped in with all the luggage, just don't get pulled over."

The driver took him at his word, and peeled out. The ride wasn't exactly pleasant, but thankfully it didn't take that long to reach the bridge. Jared heard and felt the truck come to a stop, and then someone started untying the tarp. It was absurd, but Jared held his breath while the luggage was examined. There was no way for them to detect his breathing, it was a complete waste, but human instinct was powerful and had no respect for such concepts as logic.

"Looks good!" someone shouted.

"That's a lot of luggage," someone else commented.

"Apparently his entire family is visiting, he's just carrying the luggage for them," the first voice answered.

"Where's the rest of the family then?" suspicion tinged the question, and Jared reached out to curl his mental 'finger' over the restart button on the armor.

"Apparently they got here first, he couldn't keep up," their helper answered. "I swept the gear; no significant traces of metal and no energy signatures that I could detect. It's clean. I even opened several of the bags, you saw me."

"Yeah," the suspicious voice commented. "The truck could hide a metal signature, but you did check pretty thoroughly..."

"I've cleared him, do we really need to stand around arguing?" the first man complained.

"I suppose not, tie it back down," the suspicious man sighed. "I'm tempted to just send him around, but you're right, there's no reason."

The sound of the tarp being tied back down preceded the engine starting back up, and then they were on the bridge. Jared sighed with relief, and then stiffened as his suit flagged a radio signal of interest. "This is command to all Washington DC units. We have confirmed intel -- I say again, confirmed intel -- indicating that a security breach is in progress. Go to alert status, I say again, go to alert status."

Jared wanted to scream. He was so close! So fucking close! But if they went to alert too soon...

They were off the bridge, and Jared decided it was now or never. "Emergency," he announced over the com link to his driver. "They've sent an alert out about us. Initiating a broadcast."

"Understood, I'll try to get you as close to the White House as I can before I ditch," the driver answered calmly.

Jared powered his suit up, and activated a program he'd received before the mission. Instead of trying to simply hide his EM signature by disbursing it over as large an area as possible, his suit began transmitting on every RF frequency used for human communications, while a sophisticated hacking program went to work on every wireless computer signal. In seconds, his suit was hacked into the internet from a dozen different hotspots, and a second program dropped into the net. He only had a few minutes, but for now Jared was the com hub of the entire Eastern Seaboard. And he had a few things to say.

"My fellow Americans," Jared announced, "my name is Jared Brent Warren, formerly Sergeant Major of the United States Marine Corps. You've seen my face on the news, you've heard my name on the internet. The government has tried to claim that I am a murdering rapist, that the war with the Federation is because the Federation gave a criminal asylum. I'm here, now, to tell you different."

"I and my sons escaped to the Federation because the government was hunting me. The government, under the orders of the previous President, saved my life and the life of my younger son using advanced military technology. The government of the present President then proceeded to torture and experiment on us without mercy to discover the effects of that technology. We escaped to the Federation, where we had hoped to be protected from these violations of our human rights."

"Instead, the government declared war on the Federation, claiming that it was an effort to recover a criminal. I ask you, the American people and the soldiers and sailors of the U.S. Armed Forces, to consider this logically! If the government had acted solely out of concern for a murderer's capture, would it have gone to war with the Federation, knowing that the Federation has no tolerance for such things? If the government's military actions were the results of this poor judgment on the part of a refugee intake operative, where did it get the military might to take on the Federation Starfleet? How did it get the Q ships available on short notice, why did it have fighters and carriers with which to engage in open space warfare? Why, then, did it launch a nuclear strike against an American unit on American soil?"

Jared hit a second control. "I am now dumping files to the internet proving that President Ellison was behind the assassination of President Whitaker, that he was a former member of the INGC and that they have been blackmailing him ever since -- that rather than come forward and admit the truth, he let them blackmail him into taking actions against the public good! Furthermore, he has held this nation hostage by threatening to use nuclear weapons against not just other nations, but his own people!"

"Ladies and gentlemen of the American people, it is the so-called President in the White House that is the enemy. I call upon the American people to reject his rule, to see his self-serving lies and half-truths for what they are and decline to confirm him into his current office!" Jared's voice thundered across every air wave, every news station, every video channel on the internet, but it wasn't his voice anymore. It was something greater, something grander, something that belonged in internet and that would live on, as so many other great speeches before. Days that would live in infamy, dreams of equality, questions not of what your country can do for you, fear of fear itself.

A clarion call to action, that would shake the world to its foundations before it was through. "I call upon the Armed forces to remember their oaths! By his own actions, President Ellison stands convicted of trying to break the constitution! The very constitution we are sworn to uphold! I name him liar, I name him murderer, I name him traitor to America and to his office, and I call for his immediate arrest by any and all individuals capable of doing so! I declare that any measure of support for his illegal actions taken from this day forth, done in the full knowledge of his actions, his intentions, and his reasons, to itself be treason!"

In a single abrupt motion Jared tossed aside the luggage covering him, snapped the ropes holding the tarp down, and rose up from the bed of the truck. "I go now, to place the murderous scum that defiles the office of the President of the United States of America under arrest, so that he may be tried before you all and shown guilty of these crimes! I order all military forces in the Washington DC area to stand down and not interfere."

"I call you to your oaths, ladies and gentlemen of the services! I call you to the duty to which you have sworn yourself! Support and defend the Constitution, by standing aside and allowing me to place this traitor under arrest!" Jared cut the signal and the suit resumed standard stealth operations even as the truck swerved under his feet. Jared watched as the diver dove out of the cab even as bullets started sparking against the armor protecting Jared. Jared leaped free of the truck as it rolled away, engine smoking and flames erupting from the bottom. And then his battle rifle was in his hands, and began to snarl his defiance into the faces of his enemies.

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